How to Tell When You're Going Into Labor
The birth of a new baby is a moment that every family looks forward to. Most parents will want to know the signs that the mother-to-be is going into labor.
In addition to the obvious signs that occur when the moment of birth is near, there are a few other ways to tell in advance when labor is about to begin and you should start to get ready.
Early signs of labor
During the final weeks of your pregnancy, your body will begin to give you signs that your child is coming.
- Your pelvis shifts. A few weeks before you give birth, your baby will begin to move downwards inside your pelvis. The baby is getting into position to come out into the world. You will know when this is happening because you’ll feel the need to urinate frequently. This is because the baby’s head is putting pressure on your bladder.
- Your cervix dilates. For your baby to come out, your cervix needs to dilate during the days and weeks before birth. When you go for checkups, your doctor should measure your dilation to see whether your body is prepared for birth.
- You will have stomachaches and back pain. Particularly if this is not your first pregnancy, you will have pains in your abdomen and in the lower part of your back when labor is about to begin. This is due to the muscles and joints stretching out in preparation for childbirth.
- You may have diarrhea. Like the muscles in your uterus, the other muscles in your body will relax as you prepare to give birth. This includes the muscles in your rectum, which can disrupt your bowel movements. Remember to keep yourself hydrated.
- You stop gaining weight, and may even lose a few pounds. Weight gain tends to tail off towards the end of your pregnancy, and many mothers even begin to lose weight. Don’t worry, this won’t affect the weight of your baby at all. In fact, there’s a simple explanation – your amniotic fluid levels are lower.
- You will feel much more tired than usual. During the final trimester of pregnancy your nights will be a little more difficult than before. Between the constant urge to urinate and extreme tiredness, it will be difficult to get to sleep. If you can’t sleep well at night, try to take a nap during the daytime to make up for it.
- Your joints will be looser. Relaxin, a hormone released during pregnancy, makes your ligaments a little less tight. Before labor begins, all the joints in your body will be a little more flexible. This allows your pelvis to make way for the baby to come through.
Signs that you’re going into labor
- The color and texture of your vaginal discharge changes. In the last few days of your pregnancy, you may notice a thin liquid discharge, or a type of mucous coming from the uterus. In some cases, there may be some spotting of blood. If this happens during the final weeks of your pregnancy, you should head for the hospital with all your bags packed.
- You feel strong, frequent contractions. These contractions are a sign that labor is underway. You may feel twinges in your abdomen as your uterus dilates, ready for the big moment. Some of the characteristics of contractions in labor are:
- The contractions are increasingly strong, and they don’t go away.
- The pain continues even when you change position.
- They come from your lower back towards your abdomen and may even radiate down your legs.
- They are progressive, frequent and increasingly painful, turning into constant pain that doesn’t go away until the baby is born.
- Your waters break. One of the final signs of labor, when it is imminent, is your waters breaking. However, this does not always happen, so it is important to pay attention to the other signs, too. That dramatic gush of fluids only happens in 15% of pregnancies, so don’t worry if it doesn’t happen to you.